Moldy Bread, Sandy Water, Graphic Sin, and the Meal that Satisfies


The Invitation

After the people of God had been through a great many trials, even trials that were brought upon them because of their own sins, God began to speak – or perhaps better, continued to speak – to his people through a man named Isaiah.

In Chapter 55, we hear a glorious invitation from God:

Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

the lord's supper, communion, Isaiah 55

In other words, if you are hungry, come eat rich food. If you are thirsty, come drink fine wine. Don’t worry about having the money for it; God knows that you don’t.

Graphic Sin

There are many ways the Bible describes sin. Some of them are fairly unpleasant and others are quite graphic. And rightfully so. Sin is unpleasant and, at times, graphic.

This is how sin is described in Isaiah 55, but not in the usual way we understand the terms “unpleasant” and “graphic.”

Here, Isaiah describes sin as spending money – hard-earned money – on moldy bread. It is described as labor and toil and effort – getting up early, staying up late – only to drink water filled with sand. Sin is guzzling – I mean, liquid-spilling-down-the-sides-of-your-face-and-neck-and-shirt-and-getting-you-all-sticky guzzling – “that which does not satisfy.” Isaiah is talking about faces in the feeding trough of sin.

Rather unpleasant and graphic, right?

The Meal that Satisfies

The solution offered by Isaiah – offered by God – is to feast on real food, rich food. And not just that, but to do so using another person’s expense account.

And that’s what the Lord’s Supper is about.

The Lord’s Supper is the multimedia presentation of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. It proclaims the way that sinful, undeserving people can have relationship with God. It is an invitation made to people without the ‘moral capital’ to purchase the love of God, but are nonetheless invited to “buy” grace and love and satisfaction through repentance and faith. It is an invitation to feast on a meal purchased with another’s money, a meal that does satisfy.

People often wonder who should participate in this supper, and different churches have different understandings about this, but at the core, we all can say that the meal is not for people who deserve it. That is for sure.

The Lord’s Supper, like salvation, is for those who know the dissatisfaction of their own labors; it’s for people that are tired of moldy bread and sandy water; it’s for people that worship God for his free grace to them through the Son.

Pastors have all sorts of ways to describe the Communion invitation to the congregation, but the best one I know is to say with the prophet Isaiah:

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!”

In other words, guzzle down grace ‘til it spills down your face and gets you sticky.